Would Jesus Spank a Child?
The debate on spanking continues. Here are some of my comments with a lot of benefit from John Piper (as usual). See also the well done post by Martin Shields and the relevant philosophical approach of David Benatar from the Philosophy department of University of Cape Town.
Let me say first that both sides have been guilty of unwarranted argumentation: I have known children who have [not] been spanked who turned out fine. Sure. I am sure there are people who have been abused who have turned out “fine” (whatever that means). God’s grace is great and unpredictable and many kids turned out just ‘fine’ despite our imperfect way(s) of raising them. On the other hand, there may be children who have been raised ‘perfectly’ (what does that mean?) who did not turn out so well…
To get back to our issue – this question is certainly related to our theology of suffering and also of God.
Since many people on this blog (seems to me) lived and live in countries where Christians did not suffer (especially physical) pain, I can understand why suffering (it seems especially physical) is such a big problem. For some of us who lived in Communist or other countries where Christians suffered various kinds of persecution and (yes) physical pain, we learned to see its benefits too! While it can be argued that the pain was inflicted by the ‘bad guys,’ and that is mostly true, as believers in a sovereign God we also understood it as a way that God was disciplining us and working on our character. Some of the most beautiful characters I know/knew were people who were ‘chiseled’ by suffering (e.g. Richard Wurmbrand).
Contrary to what one commentator said [if I remember correctly] our God, the Loving Father, did punish His children [Israel etc] in various ways and some of them did involve PAIN (physical included).
I would argue that PAIN can be good, including physical! It wakes up and it shows the danger of something in a way that other ways of discipline cannot and do not! [When I got a beating from my grandmother for going near some ponds where (supposedly) someone drowned, I received a fear of that place and fear of possible future punishment that I would have never got if I was put in a corner for 2 days. Obviously that was a good kind of fear, one that protected me from future dangers and also showed me how much my grandmother cared for me!]
I will let John Piper speak on this matter much more eloquently (Would Jesus Spank a Child?). As one who is willing to go to jail over this issue, he is more qualified.
I would highlight these sentences from that article: “I could give a whole theology of spanking here, but maybe I’ll just boil it down. Why does this person feel squeamish about spanking? My guess is that it is a wrong view of God. Deep down, does this person believe that God brings pain into our lives? Because Hebrews 12:6 makes the direct connection: God disciplines every son whom he loves, and spanks everyone that he delights in (my paraphrase). And the point there is suffering. God brings sufferings into our lives, and the writer of the Hebrews connects it to the parenting of God of his children. This is a wrong view of God! God uses suffering to discipline his children. So do we.”
Note that he is relying on an NT text…and the primary meaning of the Greek is “to whip/flog” – used figuratively “to discipline/chastise.”
Please understand that we are not uncivilized and uneducated ‘cave-men’ that are not aware of other methods of discipline and always resort to spanking. [In fact I am willing to bet that I spanked my children a lot less that some who are against it now but used to do it. And I do not defend this because I need to ‘justify’ my methods.] We just think that a very good case (no one responded to the article from the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review – that one has FACTS) can be made in favor of appropriate spanking and should not be taken off the table.
In my opinion – this is NOT a major issue in Canada and even USA. Sure there are people who abuse their kids and forceful action should be taken against them. But appropriate and loving spanking IS NOT the problem in most of the Western world.
As one commentator said: what about neglect? What about verbal abuse? If I am allowed to weigh in (as one who lived for about 8 years in Canada), I think a much more major problem in Canada is the problem of NEGLECT. I want to see a study in Canada (and the Western world in general) about the negative impacts of neglect. In the Western world that is the major problem. Kids left with their babysitters and TV/games etc because their parents are too busy to get rich and to maintain their lifestyles etc [NO – I am not saying that in ALL the families those are the reasons. I know that some need to work so they can survive.] But you know what? I doubt that you will see a study on the problem of NEGLECT. Because that would not be PC! It would imply that one of the parents may have to stay home and put family before career, and that is just a big “no no’ in enlightened 21st century.
P.S. CANADA never ceases to fascinate me. A few months ago a woman who strangled and killed her baby was freed…but please don’t spank your children because it is uncivilized! 😦